How to efficiently migrate sites from Adobe Business Catalyst to WordPress (+ over 20 resources!)
So you know you’re ready to switch over to WordPress. Now the question is: How are you going to do it, in a way that’s both easy for you and easy for your clients?
The bad news is that it takes some work. The good news is that there are tons of resources to help you do it! (And bonus: This gives you the perfect opportunity to talk to your clients about a redesign or signing up for some new services with you.)
- If you’re just getting started and want help downloading your Business Catalyst site, jump to this section.
- If you’re looking for tools to help you get started with WordPress, jump to this section.
- If you’re looking for tips on the optimal WordPress setup, jump to this section.
Make a plan for your Business Catalyst content
First things first: If you’re trying to maintain as much of your Business Catalyst site as possible, you need to strategize your move. Here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.
1. Don’t forget anything
Business Catalyst to WordPress (and almost every other CMS) is not a one-to-one conversion. That being said, there are lots of moving parts when making the switch.
Your blog posts can be moved via RSS feeds, but redesigning the site and moving each one to WordPress posts can only be done through the 100 post maximum RSS export option in Business Catalyst. Not to mention you’ll want to check and double check your database to make sure you’re not missing anything there either!
If you’re a designer moving client sites rather than your own, this might be a good point to ask them what needs to be moved. This minimizes your workload and provides a great opportunity to do a site and content audit!
The key here is to stay organized and always double check you have everything you need.
2. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on past work
While it might feel daunting to find a new solution for your Business Catalyst sites, just remember: This is an opportunity to improve upon past work and continue developing your skills as a designer.
This change provides a great opportunity to go back and critique your old work in order to grow. It’s a great time to be reflective as you work, see where you’ve grown, learn from your experiences, and streamline your processes moving forward.
3. Rely on resources and community
In keeping this positive mindset, it’s helpful to know there are so many designers and developers in the same boat, and there is a big, welcoming community to aid in the transition!
I even found a Facebook group just for people moving from Business Catalyst to WordPress. It’s a great community sharing tons of resources and knowledge from trying it themselves!
There are also so many publications, professionals, and companies that work specifically with WordPress every single day, and those people also have your back! Together you’re sure to get started in the best way possible.
If you’re looking for more support about transitioning from Business Catalyst, you might want to consider looking at this business or this Adobe resource. Now, let’s talk specifically about WordPress!
Tools to help you get accustomed to WordPress
While there will be a learning curve if you’ve never used WordPress before, there are so many tools and resources that’ll make it easier (and less time-consuming) for you.
This great tool is an open source boilerplate theme for WordPress and gives users a ton of flexibility in building out your website. So if you’re working on your own customized WordPress theme, this option provides a little structure for your new HTML theme. Converting HTML and CSS to WordPress has never been easier!
If you’re looking to make the WordPress Post and Page text editor look more familiar, you can use this plugin to convert the look of it to HTML syntax. Especially if you and your clients are used to the HTML format, this is a great option if you’re unfamiliar with WordPress or are using code-heavy content.
If you’re migrating eCommerce sites, this might be a gamechanger! LitExtension converts your Business Catalyst site to WooCommerce, which you can easily plug in to WordPress and keep your site moving!
This great plugin helps customize your sites by organizing your content so that you can put it into pages, posts, themes, and widgets. This can help replace content holders you may have worked with in Business Catalyst.
This free tool is a local development application that can offer a suite of options to aid in your transition. First, because it’s a free option, it gives you the chance to play with a WordPress site, start to learn how to use it, and develop sites with no commitment. If you make a few learning mistakes in the process, it doesn’t matter because you’re not experimenting with the client’s live site!
With Local’s Live Links feature, you can send a link to your client that allows them to preview the site on their machine (even though the site is hosted locally on your machine)! It makes the review process outrageously easy, so you can check in with your clients whenever you want to make sure their Business Catalyst site transition is going well.
Once you’re ready to take a site live, it is extremely easy to export the site and take it to any WordPress host. If you’re looking for an easy, streamlined option to push a site live with the click of a button, Connect to Flywheel is about to become your best friend. Once you’re finished with the site and have your Flywheel hosting account set up, all you have to do is click “Push to Flywheel” and your site is up and running. It seems too good to be true, but it’s really that simple! When your site is live and perhaps you need to make a couple last-minute changes, you can also pull your sites down to Local and edit them offline. It makes for the simplest WordPress workflow you could imagine!
The best WordPress themes and plugins
No matter what type of WordPress site you’re building, there are a few constant best practices we recommend you follow. These include things like never updating the WordPress core, optimizing your images, and using themes and plugins from quality developers and companies. While there are so many great resources out there for WordPress designers and developers, I wanted to highlight some recommended plugins and themes. Here are some of our favorites!
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In regard to themes, there are many out there that provide the perfect start. If you’re looking for something that really stands out and looks original, try some premium themes. This pretty much goes without saying, but you should always do your research and look at reviews before you decide to make a theme purchase, just like any other online purchase.
If you want to try a few themes before making a big decision, there are also plenty of free WordPress themes to choose from. This gives you the flexibility to check out a few different options and get a sense of how customizable they are. Not to mention, if your client wants to try something new, you haven’t invested too much money in a theme.
In regard to plugins, there are so many great ones out there, so it just depends on what functionality you’re looking for and even what type of site you’re creating. That said, some plugins tend to be crowd favorites across the board. Get a sneak peek of 20 of the best plugins for any site with this free ebook! These 20 plugins cover everything from security and forms to compression and payments.
WordPress DIY – Develop It Yourself
Creating your own customized tools may seem overwhelming at first, but there are resources available to help you get started. Using your prior-existing development knowledge, you’re already headed for success!
For example, if you can’t find the right WordPress theme, you could always create your very own child theme based on your own preferences. Basically, a child theme allows you to take the main functionality of a parent theme and tailor it to your own specific needs! Interested in learning more? Learn how to create your own WordPress child theme in this step-by-step tutorial.
For even more customized functionality, you might be able to make a pretty penny from developing your own plugins! You did all this work to build and customize your sites, so spread the love and share it with other WordPress users (either free or paid)! After all, that’s what the WordPress community is all about. If that seems like something you might want to try, check out this guide to programming, publishing, and promoting your first WordPress plugin!
Finally, if you’re looking for even more customization, you can create your own custom shortcode. If you’re new to WordPress shortcodes, it’s great way to let you insert some kind of special functionality in your content. Shortcodes are a great alternative because all you do is insert a little snippet into your post or page, rather than adding a whole new plugin or customizing an entire theme.
Set up your WordPress site for success
No matter what type of WordPress site you’re building (blog, eCommerce, portfolio, online community, business, news, etc.) there are resources and tools to take you to the top!
Especially when you’re starting the process of moving all your sites from Business Catalyst to WordPress, you’re looking for speed and simplicity.
One of the easiest ways to build out your site for success is to use plugins and themes tailored for your specific type of site. Especially if you’re rebuilding a bunch of similar sites, having a go-to setup to start each project will save you loads of development time. Let’s break it down!
WordPress for blogs:
For bloggers, there are so many ways to optimize your workflow. Lucky for you, WordPress is great for blogs, and from that stems a variety of themes, plugins, and tips to help you grow. And when I say grow, I mean in any way you want – site traffic, subscribers, income, you name it!
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If you’re building out a blog on WordPress, it’s important to think about how the content is displayed. Is it mostly text-based, or are images just as important? If you need additional functionality, there are some great plugins you can turn to for things like image galleries or content calendar management.
Once you’ve looked through and picked your favorite plugins, you might want to check and see if you’ve included some of these essential plugins for bloggers as well.
Now that your blog is set up for success on WordPress, it’s time to think about workflow and worth. While anybody can start a blog, the really successful bloggers in the world have streamlined workflows and do a few things really well:
- Understand your audience
- Tailor your content
- Use the right tools
- Form relationships
- Optimize share power
And that’s just the beginning! Get to know more keys to success and dive deeper in to these 10 tips to becoming a better blogger. And, like I mentioned, mastering the workflow is one thing, but you have to understand your worth. What’s the real ROI of all the blood, sweat, and tears you put into your blog? Monetizing your WordPress blog is actually easier than you think!
WordPress for eCommerce:
There are plenty of themes and plugins that are very helpful for eCommerce sites. Some come highly recommended with features like payments and downloads to create a better experience for the end users. You can check out some of the best plugins for eCommerce sites here!
With over 43 million downloads, WooCommerce is perhaps one of the biggest and most well-known eCommerce plugins for WordPress. And with its growing popularity, there are many ways you can customize it for your website, like adding custom fields to the checkout page.
If you are designing an online store, there are also some WordPress themes that may be just what you’re looking for! You’re going to want a structure that focuses on images and is easy to customize. Check out these 14 eCommerce WordPress themes that might just be perfect for your next online store project!
Get a team to back you up
You want a partner with the tools and expertise to make this transition as simple as possible. That’s where a great host can come into play! Flywheel has a number of features that can aid in moving your sites to WordPress, like staging sites or Blueprints. With Blueprints, you can create custom WordPress templates with pre-installed themes or plugins.
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For example, say you have a bunch of eCommerce sites to move over from Business Catalyst, and you’ve found a few WordPress plugins that would be nice to have on all of them. You can just pull up your eCommerce Blueprint with those plugins and a theme you like working with installed, and start creating a custom site based on those settings right away! It’s an incredible way to speed up development, especially if you have several sites that could benefit from the same themes or plugins.
Beyond that, Flywheel has some great features for collaborating with your team and your clients. And don’t forget, you can always pull sites down to Local to edit offline, use staging sites for quick fixes, or reach out to our friendly Happiness Engineers (our support team!) if you have any questions at all. Talk about an optimal workflow with a team that always has your back!
What makes this the perfect solution? Find the real value of managed WordPress hosting in this free guide!
When it comes to moving your sites from Business Catalyst to WordPress, there’s no need to fear as there are countless resources and tools to set you up for optimal success!
And the good news is WordPress isn’t going anywhere, and it’s a great CMS substitute moving forward. How are you navigating the transition? Are there any other tools or resources you’ve found? Share them all in the comments!